Central Health documents state that if current on-site demand at CommUnityCare doubles, the longevity of the personal protective equipment the nonprofit has on-hand will be halved. (Graphics courtesy Central Health)
Residents in Pflugerville and South Austin next week will have new access to coronavirus testing as CommUnityCare Health Centers is positioned to set up new testing tents.
Officials from the Central Health-funded health care provider told the Central Health board of managers April 22 that the new testing sites could be ready for use as early as April 27.
“We will be offering a new approach at William Cannon and Pflugerville, and that will be a park tent. People can park in a tent and our team will come directly to them,” said Yvonne Camarena, chief operating officer at CommUnityCare.
Similar to the drive-up sites launched last week, patients at these two new sites will not require an appointment, insurance or payment to be screened and tested.
“You don’t have to have referrals at any of our testing sites. If you come, you will be screened,” said Sherri Greenberg, Central Health board chair.
According to new numbers presented April 22, CommUnityCare tested 91 people for coronavirus at four drive-up sites from April 16-21. Jaeson Fournier, CommUnityCare president and CEO, told managers that CommUnityCare has conducted nearly 2,000 tests total across all of its clinic locations and drive-up sites.
This testing comes as CommUnityCare temporarily closed seven clinics in a strategic move to preserve personal protective equipment, or PPE, for its health care professionals. The nonprofit health care provider on April 15 announced it reopened some of those closed clinics.
On-site demand across CommUnityCare’s clinics has dropped by approximately 80%, Fournier told managers. This is due partially to a sharp increase in the use of telehealth services offered by the nonprofit, data from CommUnityCare shows. According to Central Health documents, 70.53% of all clinical visits with CommUnityCare are now occurring via telehealth as of April 21.
The expanded use of telehealth has helped CommUnityCare preserve PPE for its staff, Fournier told managers. Currently, the nonprofit has 48 days of N95 respirator masks on hand for staff and 28 days of face shields on hand for staff.
However, Fournier warned the stock of PPE currently in the nonprofit’s hands could quickly dry up if on-site demand increases. Central Health documents state that if on-site demand at CommUnityCare doubles to 40% of its normal service workload, the number of days of PPE on-hand the nonprofit currently has will be halved.
“If we get to 85% [of CommUnityCare’s normal on-site demand] we get to seven and a half days of masks, and that’s when we start sweating on our end,” Fournier said.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order allowing hospitals to resume elective procedures and surgeries on April 22.
Currently, CommUnityCare staff is working to secure more PPE ahead of any on-site demand increases, Fournier said.